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BOOKPLATES 

BY 

FREDERICK 

GARRISON 

HALL 

Will, Text By 

R.CLIPSTON 

STVRCIS 
















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THE BOOK-PLATES OF 
FREDERICK GARRISON HALL 





ECORATIVE design in 
^ America has had in none of 
its branches so rapid a devel- 
opment as in that of the book- 
plate. Twenty-five years ago 
there were, in this country, it.vi book-plates that 
were anything more than coats-of-arms or labels. 
To-day there is a large and increasing production 
in this branch of design. The book-plate no 
longer necessarily consists of a coat-of-arms only; 
more usually it is a small, decorative composition 
that in some way indicates the owner's individ- 
uality, or else is, in a general way, symbolic of 
books and reading. 

Mr. Hall's plates have a place of their own 
among theforemost produftionsof the day. Both 
in conception and in execution they are notable. . 

It is pleasant to see that Mr. Hall, though 
largely self taught, has fortunately little or nothing 



to unlearn. Though we do see in his work a 
distindt tinge of individuality, it is evident that 
his efforts have been directed chiefly toward per- 
fecting his means of expression. As Stevenson, 
in another form of art, using language as a medium, 
for years studied and imitated what he considered 
best in the styles of the great writers, so Mr. Hall 
has confined his attention to those masters whose 
method lends itself most rapidly to drawings of a 
purely decorative character. His study of the old 
designers has been untiring; in the light of their 
work he has striven for a satisfactory technique. 
In his more recent plates we can see the begin- 
nings of a style distinctively his own, one that is 
all the more interesting when we know on what 
foundation it is built. 

His subjects are largely drawn from the past; 
his method is inspired by the work of such men as 
Durer, Van Staar, and Rembrandt, masters of pure 
line. Yet in Mr. Hall's best work one may trace 
results of the study, not only of the elder engravers 
and wood-cutters, but also of modern draughtsmen. 

Turn for instance to the Straus plate. The eflfect 
is that of a steel engraving; yet in the rendering 
of the face may be seen the influence of Mr. 



Maxfield Parrish. The Roelvink plate shows this 
combination still more plainly. The handling of 
the figure of the young prince is distinctively 
modern, but the treatment of the walls, especially 
that of the corner where a lightening of the tones 
is effected by diamond cross hatching with broken 
lines, takes us back to the sixteenth century. 

The Hooper plate, on the other hand, though 
it lacks some of the mechanical perfections of the 
two mentioned above, will doubtless seem to many 
one of the most charming in the collection. Pure 
line work is seldom better applied to pictorial 
decoration. 

The plate was etched by Mr. W. H. W. Bick- 
well ; it was one of Mr. Hall's earlier productions, 
dating from about the same time as the Fuller 
plate, engraved by Mr. Spenceley. The composi- 
tion of the latter is especially noteworthy. The 
White plate is perhaps the best example of the 
command of a clean steady pen line. The sky is 
admirably handled ; the shading of the sails is care- 
ful and fitting. The natural treatment of the 
water, and the general freedom from exaggeration, 
make the plate a good example of what some one 
has called "sane decoration." 



In no way dependent on elaboration for their 
effect, the two small plates (of Walton Atwater 
Green and Clement Scott) are perfect in their way. 
The reproduction of the latter is hardly smaller 
than the original. There is little in it; a Venetian 
lamp and a scroll ; but the sense of composition 
and harmony is excellent. Mr. Hall's plate is 
interesting. The hand is his own and the H in 
its complete form the signature that he has lately 
adopted. The Allen plate, engraved by Mr. 
Spenceley, shows a happier use qf solid blacks 
than, for instance, the Straus plate. The handling 
of the small shields and the decorations at the 
bottom is typical in delicacy and completeness. 

In conclusion, one may call attention to the 
lettering of these book-plates. Few laymen 
realize that lettering is something more than a 
mechanical process. Those who have tried it, 
know that lettering is a difficult art in itself. 
Mr. Hall has developed a thoroughly good style. 
The inscriptions of the White, and the Chatman 
plates may be taken as examples of his best work 
in this line. 

What Mr. Hall may ultimately achieve is, of 
course, a matter of conjecture. But one may 



safely say that if the normal course of development 
holds true in his case, his future work is destined 
to occupy no secondary place in the field of Am- 
erican decorative design. 





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CECIL H. GREEN LIBRARY 
STANFORD UNIVERSITY LIBRAR 
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA 94305^ 
(650) 723-1493 
greencircQstanFord.edu 



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DATE DUE 



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